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This post has a lock message, but I see no meta thread to indicate why. Does this simply mean that the admin who locked it did not create any additional documentation regarding the reason?

It may be because the OP acknowledged that the problem came from brilliant.org, however a reading of both the question and answers would reveal that the OP only asked for help understanding why their answer was incorrect, not help arriving at the correct answer.

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  • $\begingroup$ The question was taken from Brilliant.org. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Nov 24 '13 at 13:15
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila, are we not supposed to provide any assistance on these problems, even when the OP asks why their answer is wrong rather than how to get the correct answer? $\endgroup$ – half-integer fan Nov 24 '13 at 13:22
  • $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak the admin left no comments, just the lock notice. $\endgroup$ – half-integer fan Nov 24 '13 at 13:22
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila I do not see any ongoing contests on that website. But I do not know that site, so I might have missed something. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Nov 24 '13 at 13:28
  • $\begingroup$ I registered to look at the site, it is primarily a practice and individual challenge site; it appears the contests are infrequent. $\endgroup$ – half-integer fan Nov 24 '13 at 13:30
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    $\begingroup$ Recently we were asked to not help people on questions originating from another contest. It seems likely to me that a moderator acted pre-emptively, just in case this would happen to be a question from an ongoing contest. It was discussed in meta, and the agreed upon policy (if you can call it that) was to lock first and ask questions later. If it was unnecesssary to lock this question, you can flag a moderator, preferrably with a link showing the due date of this question, and they will unlock it. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Nov 24 '13 at 17:34
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    $\begingroup$ There was never a proposal (and therefore no agreement) to lock-first-ask-later without a specific claim identifying the contest and the fact that it is ongoing. Stating that a problem is from Brilliant does not meet that standard, assuming that for-profit venture capital funded Brilliant qualifies for "protected status" on MSE, because all indications are that most of the Brilliant problems are not an ongoing contest in the sense of the meta.MSE discussions. If everything in their site is an ongoing contest, that information has not been publicized to the users here. @JyrkiLahtonen $\endgroup$ – zyx Nov 24 '13 at 21:02
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    $\begingroup$ @zyx: That discussion was not about Brilliant.org specifically. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Nov 24 '13 at 21:15
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    $\begingroup$ And, @zyx, pray tell me how an Austrian moderator would know all about Brilliant's money-making scheme? I certainly didn't. Better safe than sorry is surely a prudent action when in doubt. Locking is way easier to undo than a ruined contest. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Nov 24 '13 at 21:40
  • $\begingroup$ I was not commenting on the moderator's action, but on the description of past meta activity, which does not (appear to) apply to this case or others like it. The moderators are aware of the general nature of Brilliant due to the many discussions and flags/comments/answers from its problem master. If not, it is Brilliant's job to explain itself, since it does not fit the model of a low budget volunteer-organized contest that attracted the general sympathy of MSE voters. Also, it was stated recently that Brilliant gives solutions to the ongoing contests on its web site. @Jyr $\endgroup$ – zyx Nov 24 '13 at 23:20
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    $\begingroup$ We also have not yet heard from Brilliant about whether they view posting of the questions that are not present or past ongoing-contest problems, as being good or bad for their business, or in some way a process they want to limit (maybe for copyright reasons, if those apply). It looks to me like free advertising when the OP writes "from Brilliant.org" in big letters in the title of a question, but really this is something for the company to explain if it wants to, and not for the rest of us to guess. $\endgroup$ – zyx Nov 24 '13 at 23:36
  • $\begingroup$ As the answerer to that question, while I did consciously avoid providing tips toward a solution, my apologies if the answer still overstepped the line regarding contest problems. For future reference, are answers to "what is wrong with my logic?" questions unacceptable for contest problems? Or was the question locked so that no one else could step in to provide a solution? $\endgroup$ – Casteels Nov 25 '13 at 11:41
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    $\begingroup$ All, sorry for dropping off while this discussion progressed. As @Casteels says, the reason for my question was not to complain about the lock but to understand if he and I had provided assistance that was discouraged, despite our own self-restraint. As zyx says, I actually registered for Brilliant and sent a link to my daughter because of the mention in the question. Since Willie offered to contact the moderator I will let him do that. Perhaps we will eventually hear from Calvin Lin. $\endgroup$ – half-integer fan Nov 26 '13 at 2:30
  • $\begingroup$ @half-integerfan: the question has since been unlocked (contests on Brilliant.org typically runs for 1 week; the lock was placed two days after the the question was asked, so I think it is safe to unlock it now.) We will try to be more careful in the future about putting up moderator notices for locks. $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Nov 29 '13 at 11:33
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Just for clarification:

This was not pre-emptive action by a Moderator. We are often asked by Calvin Lin who is affiliated with Billiant.org to lock questions that are part of ongoing contests. This is one of those cases.


That said, I wasn't the one who handled that flag. Generally I would (and I expect the other mods too) double check to see that the question is in fact a live contest question before locking. Sometimes the organisers make it easy (specific link provided to specific question on their web page). Sometimes they don't. But for the flags that I have handled concerning contest questions, I have yet to come across a flag on a question from non-current contests (excepting the Project Euler ones, which raised quite some discussion before).


Lastly, we generally do try to make sure that whenever contest questions are locked, we include a moderator message up top that states which contest it is from and when the contest end-date is. For short-term contests usually we can make sure the lock expires after the end-date. For longer-term ones sometimes it is difficult, including an end-date ensures that users who see a question we forgot to unlock can ping us to do so. Michael probably just forgot to do it this time. I'll ping him about it.

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